The Island of Fire is what the Spaniards call the third smallest island in the Philippines. This is because of the molave trees that cover the hills and the fireflies in them. Today it is called Siquijor, a name synonymous with witchcraft and voodoo.
Watch a television special in the Philippines every Halloween and you’ll know what I mean. Many people, Filipinos especially, still believe the island to have supernatural creatures in them. They may be right because the island itself is magical. You will be enchanted with these top 13 things to do in Siquijor, Philippines.
1. Attend the Folk Healing Festival
Every Holy Week, folk healers and herbalists from the Philippines gather at Siquijor for the Folk Healing Festival. Part of their tradition is to gather different ingredients from the mountains, seas, caves, and cemeteries to be used during the festival. Ingredients include plants, herbs, insects, dirt, and other substances.
After gathering all the ingredients, the healers perform a “pag-adlep,” which means the plant ingredients will be chopped at the festival and will be cooked in a large cauldron. For the entire Holy Week, there will be cultural presentations, product displays, and healing sessions with the folk healers. Interested in getting love potions? You know where to go.
Folk Healing Festival
Website: Folk Healing Festival
2. Do the Tarzan jump at Cambugahay Falls
Nature Challenge Day 5: Tarzan jumping at Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor ♣Posted by Cristina Santiago on Wednesday, 4 May 2016
You would need to walk down about 140 stone steps to get to the turquoise green waters of Cambugahay Falls. It’s a tiered waterfall coming from the freshwater springs in the mountains. They’re not tall but it’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. There are mini waterfalls at Cambugahay and the waters are shallow which is perfect for the kids to swim through. Also, there is a rope tied to a tree where you can do a Tarzan jump, so if you’re up for the challenge then don’t hesitate.
Address: Siquijor Circumferential Rd, Lazi, Siquijor
3. Fish spa at the Balete Tree
Siquijor is famous for its 400-year old enchanted Balete Tree, located just on the main road of Lazi. It’s the oldest and biggest tree in Siquijor. The mysterious tree, which is believed to be where rituals were performed, is huge.
And it’s a little strange that there’s a spring coming from the Balete Tree that flows through the manmade pool. This is where you can have your fish spa and let the fishes remove the dead skin cells from your feet. It’s an enchanting experience for some.
Address: Siquijor Circumferential Road, Lazi, Siquijor
4. Spelunking at Cantabon Cave
It would cost about 10 USD (already good for three people and inclusive of guides) to spelunk at Siquijor’s spellbinding cave. You would need about 4 hours to explore just part of the cave; they say no one has explored the entire Cantabon cave yet. If you’re bringing cameras and smartphones make sure they’re placed in a dry bag as you will be navigating through waist-deep waters. Spelunking at Cantabon is a must if you’re in Siquijor. The stalactites and stalagmite formations are beautiful.
Address: Barangay Cantabon, Siquijor
5. Cliff jump at Salagdoong Beach
This is a must-go for every traveler, whether one is looking for adventure or just want to relax. You’ll pass by lots of trees on the way to the resort. It’s quiet, serene, and peaceful.
The waters are crystal-clear. And they have a diving board 20 meters (66 feet) above sea level that you shouldn’t miss. While at the resort, don’t forget to order their pizza; it’s really good. They also have a swimming pool and tables perfect for a family picnic.
Address: Maria, Siquijor
6. Visit the Lazi Convent and San Isidro Church
You’re not allowed to take photos inside the convent because inside there is a museum that contains 19th-century religious artifacts. The convent is one of the oldest and largest in Asia. Worth a visit in Lazi. While you’re at the convent, visit San Isidro church which is just beside it. The church is said to have been built in 1884.
Address: Lazi, Siquijor
7. Climb Mt. Bandilaan: Siquijor's highest peak
Mt. Bandilaan is the highest peak in Siquijor and also considered a sacred place. This is where the faith healers look for ingredients for the festival. The rituals are performed at Mt. Bandilaan as well. It’s not a tedious climb as it would take only about 20 minutes to get to the summit and see the entire island of Siquijor.
Address: Siquijor, Siquijor
8. Enjoy the beautiful sunset at San Juan
At San Juan, you’ll find long stretches of white sand beaches. There are some rock formations perfect for picture taking. Some of the best beach resorts in Siquijor are also found in San Juan. You can have your dinner at the beach while waiting for the sunset. You could also lie down in a hammock or take a stroll on the beach.
Address: San Juan, Siquijor
9. Spot the fireflies at Hambilica
They said when you see fireflies on a tree, it means that the tree is either enchanted or the environment is clean. Siquijor is known to have a lot of fireflies, but the best place to go is Hambilica where there is a firefly hatchery at the sea. Firefly watching is free for their guests.
Firefly watching at Hambilica
Address: Siquijor Circumferential Road, San Juan, 6227 Siquijor
Website: Firefly watching
10. Swim Siquijor's white beaches
Siquijor only has 6 municipalities: Maria, Larena, San Juan, Lazi, Siquijor, and Enrique Villanueva. All have white beaches except Enrique Villanueva. One of the most visited resorts is the Coco Grove.
The resort offers accommodations, tours, and diving packages. The crystal-clear water of the resort is perfect for swimming. And the resort owner has a talking Macaw parrot that’s really adorable.
Coco Grove Resort
Address: San Juan, Siquijor Island
Website: Coco Grove Resort
11. Tubod Marine Sanctuary
Considered as one of the best dive sites in Siquijor is Tubod Marine Sanctuary. It encompasses over seven hectares (17.3 acres) of teeming coral reef with intermittent sandy areas and seagrass beds. It is located right in front of the southern section of Coco Grove Beach Resort, hence the sanctuary is easily accessible from the resort’s beach. This sanctuary starts as a gently sloping reef, that continues to an area that is predominantly seagrass beds. As the depth increases, coral heads and different soft corals dominate. On its sandy bottoms, you may find other interesting sea creatures in surprisingly large numbers like octopus, squid, Hawksbill turtles and many others. To maximize your stay, you may lounge on the floating raft with sun chairs or take the kayak to enjoy the surface of the water. Meanwhile, if you wanted to explore underwater, you can grab a snorkel and get acquainted with the massive amount of sea life just hanging out.
Coco Grove Beach Resort
Address: San Juan, Siquijor
Website: Coco Grove Beach Resort
Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm (daily)
12. Marelle’s Underwater World Museum
Spend an hour of your day at Marelle’s Underwater World Museum. It contains a collection of seashells, corals, crabs and other marine life of every shape, size, and species that are all sorted out and arranged by type. This facility educates guests about shells and the importance of them and also raise awareness on the dangers of losing them. You’ll also find displays that show the fishing culture in Siquijor like catamaran fishing boats, fishing nets, and maps. Moreover, they also have a stamp collection with marine life designs that came from all over the world. Should you want to bring a souvenir you may browse a present for a loved one in their gift shop. The creative and unique souvenir items here are made by Philippine artisans. You may choose from lots of “Siquijor” themed shells that have been turned into magnets, key chains, and trinkets. Before you leave, you may also try their ‘adobo’ and dine under their shaded veranda.
Marelle’s Underwater World Museum
Address: Siquijor Circumferential Road, Siquijor
Opening hours: 7am - 10pm (daily)
13. Kanheron Ranch
Tucked away in a small island in Siquijor is Kanheron Ranch. This exotic old American themed museum features western artifacts that provide you a glimpse of wild American west experience. It is surrounded by the lush vegetation of native hardwood trees and has an ocean & mountain view. It has a big open space with a high-beamed cathedral ceiling and a distinct architecture. The artwork gallery showcases the ingenuity of its local workers through its wood art carving collection. Should you want to marvel at its displays, you can hang out on its cozy lounging areas or visit its elegant wine room with a vast selection of imported wines.
Address: Siquijor Circumferential Road, Siquijor
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
It's truly a magical island
You will hear stories about people who came to the island and never returned. That story may be true, but I’m sure it’s not because the island is haunted. Siquijor is simply enchanting; you will never run out of things to do in the Island of Fire.
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